March 28, 2012— -- The tallest man in America has a big problem, and is turning to the public for help in raising money for a new pair of shoes.
Igor Vovkivinskiy, of Rochester, Minn., stands at a towering 7 feet, 8 inches tall, and is in desperate need of new shoes for his one-of-a-kind feet. The 29-year-old has endured 16 surgeries on his feet because of his stature and problems caused by ill-fitting shoes in the past. His last remaining shoes don't properly support his body weight and cause problems and pain while walking, effectively relegating him to a wheelchair part-time, he said.
"I have 1 pair of clogs; they have no shape that holds my foot, they have no grip on the bottom, so going out in the winter is suicide, it hurts horribly to walk in them, and they hurt my feet, legs, hips, and back," Vovkivinskiy wrote on the website GoFundMe, which helps individuals raise money for causes.
Vovkivinskiy said on the webpage that he contacted sneaker companies and shoemakers about getting a custom-made pair of shoes for his feet, and was told the process would have to include laser-scans and would cost nearly $15,000.
"I do not have a Shoe Size. I have not had a shoes size since the age of 16 (about)," Vovkivinskiy wrote on the page. "They are each deformed terribly now. I have spent a total of 3 years on bed rest. Why did I have 16 surgeries? Because none of my shoes for too long have been made specifically for my feet. They rub they make wounds, I have surgery, foot gets more deformed, they rub more, I have more surgery and so on. And the circle goes on."
Vovkivinskiy contacted media outlets looking for assistance for his condition, but never heard back. He started the website hoping to raise enough to help him pay for the custom shoes and a flight to Massachusetts, where he would get the laser scans done. Even flying, he noted, will be a challenge; Vovkivinskiy can't fit in a coach seat.
The Minnesota college student posted the page on March 6, and within two weeks, had raised about $3,000 from the public.
Within the past six days however, his donations have skyrocketed from $3,000 to more than $31,000, doubling the amount Vovkivinskiy said he needed for his new shoes.
"Thank you so much to everyone...Thank you so much to everyone who made this donation drive happen!! I cannot believe my eyes at the amount and the generosity of the people. Thank you all," he wrote today.
Vovkivinskiy did not return calls for comment today.